Mental Issues, Stress, a Major Concern for Employers in Asia-Pacific

There is significant consistency across Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, that mental issues and stress are amongst the top concerns of companies, according to a pulse survey by Towers Watson, a global professional services company.


Mental issues and stress emerged as one of the top concerns in Shanghai and Hong Kong ahead of infectious diseases for Hong Kong and lack of physical activity for Shanghai. In Singapore, it is ranked second after chronic conditions, e.g. diabetes, asthma, hypertension.


The Towers Watson survey found that employers in these three markets ranked “demonstrate interest in employee well-being, employee resiliency/stress management” as their topmost concern – a reflection of the paternalistic approach of Asian employers towards the offering of employee benefits. This was followed by retaining key talent and competitive reward packages.


"Companies understand the importance of having a comprehensive health and wellness strategy, but there are also significant challenges ahead," says Andrew Heard, Managing Director, Asia-Pacific Benefits at Towers Watson.


To begin their wellness journey, companies should determine the key fundamentals of where they are, the support they need and then go about designing and putting in place an integrated health and wellness strategy that works for their organisation, adds Heard.


Dr Rajeshree Parekh, Director of Corporate Health and Wellness for Asia-Pacific at Towers Watson comments that health and wellness programmes are a good differentiator for employers in attracting and retaining top talent in Asia-Pacific.


"The majority of companies surveyed have strong backing from senior leadership in terms of support for a healthy work environment and have allocated budget for initiatives.  What is lacking, however, is they have not been actively involved in implementing integrated plans.



Organisations should do well to collect and measure health and wellness metrics.


According to the survey, Singapore stood out as being the country where as many as 83% of participants already have a Health Strategy in place with the remainder planning an imminent roll-out. This contrasted with Hong Kong where only 30% of the participants have one in place and 50% have no plans to adopt one. In Shanghai 72% of participants have a strategy and 21% indicated it was on their agenda for the near future.


The objective for a Health Care Strategy emerged as the same across the three countries indicating ‘interest for employee wellbeing’ as the prime reason.


Communication of the health and wellness initiatives and strategies to employees is, however, a concern in Hong Kong, as only 33% of employers have a formal communication strategy.  In comparison, organisations in Singapore and Shanghai with formal communications programmes ranked at 71% and 82%, respectively.


Health screening, mental health/stress management, on-site fitness centres and vaccinations are the most popular programmes with Asian employers.




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